The Richard D. Parker Memorial Victory Gardens.
When the United States entered World War II, commercially grown crops and transportation resources were shifted to support military operations. With this shift and the rationing of canned fruits and vegetables in early 1943, civilians were encouraged to begin growing fruits and vegetables themselves. At their height, an estimated 20 million Victory Gardens were in existence supplying more than 40% of the fresh fruits and vegetables consumed in the United States. Victory Gardens appeared in backyards, on the lawn of the White House, and in neighborhood and community plots including the Fenway Victory Gardens. Founded in 1942 and located in Frederick Law Olmsted’s famed Emerald Necklace, the Fenway Victory Gardens is comprised of over 500 gardens spanning 7.5 acres. The gardens are tended by a community of more than 475 members from every neighborhood in Boston, reflecting the diversity of our city and its rich history and culture. The Fenway Victory Gardens is one of the two remaining continuously-operating World War II Victory Gardens in the United States and the only garden to have continued its operation in the same location as it was during the War.
The Boston Victory Garden Committee secured 49 areas for cultivation, including a large plot of land bordered by the Muddy River, Boylston Street, and Park Drive, an area that would come to be known as the Fenway Victory Gardens. As the War drew to a close, the City of Boston shifted priorities and a number of proposed projects threatened to replace the Gardens.
Led by Richard D. Parker, a group of wartime gardeners reached out to City officials and collaborated to organize The Fenway Garden Society. Notes from their first meeting in October of 1944 identified the society’s objective to “promote the planting and growing of vegetables for home usage.” Richard D. Parker remained an influential leader in the Fenway Garden Society until his death in 1975. In 1979, the Gardens were renamed the Richard D. Parker Memorial Victory Gardens in his honor.
In 1949 the Fenway Garden Society assumed full responsibility of the administration, maintenance, and appearance of the garden parkland from the Boston Parks and Recreation Department in accordance with their Guidelines and Regulations. More than 70 years later, the Fenway Garden Society remains responsible for the parkland.
Designated as an official Boston Historic Landmark on September 19, 1983, the Fenway Victory Gardens are a beloved retreat for gardeners, City of Boston residents, and visitors alike.